By Shannon Cohen
As busy women, we are often consumed with activities that place a premium on outside expectations. Much of our time is dedicated to addressing what others need, want and expect from us. Managing and meeting the expectations of others can become life-consuming, dream-altering and purpose-draining.
Let’s pause in this moment and consider the last time we asked, pondered and answered the question: “What do I want?” If we never honestly ask and answer that question, how can we truly live as captains of our own destinies? There is no way to live at the intersection of joy and purpose without asking this fundamental question. I am not suggesting that we shift to the other end of the spectrum and become totally “me-first” and selfish. I am, however, elevating an idea that each of us needs to develop and act from a self-inclusive mindset.
Think of self-inclusive living like the air mask policy of major airlines: Doing good for others begins with being good to ourselves. Cultivating this mindset is about listening to and valuing the voice of your own soul. It is about respecting your value, time, energy and aspirations. Yes, there are times and seasons in your life when operating at the intersection of “obligation and duty” or “need-to but don’t-want-to” are required. We all know what those seasons of life and leadership are like.
Yet, more times than not, we have opportunities to ask and hold true to the outcomes we desire. How might our lives be different if we better incorporated our own needs and voice as a decision-making litmus test? What if we measured every choice and action against whether or not the decision would move us closer to or away from the dreams and desires of our heart? Asking what we want helps clear, minimize and eliminate the clutter of external voices and demands.
Tough Skin, Soft Heart Truth
Tough Skin: Being a pillar in my home, marketplace, and community is not always synonymous with placing myself last or never considering myself at all. I don’t have to routinely martyr my own needs and interests. Voicing and honoring what I want and need has the power to revolutionize every area of my life!
Soft Heart: Taking inventory of my own heart is not an act of selfishness. When I listen to and honor my own voice, I am better able to help others hear and honor their voices.